The ability to use crampons allows you to be more confident while traversing hardpacked snow or steep, icy terrain while summiting a mountain or hiking at higher altitudes. Stability is enhanced by crampons, a traction device used by mountaineers to prevent falls. To travel on snow and glaciers safely when you are mountaineering, it is just as important to use crampons as you know proper footwork techniques and how to use ice axe skills.
You will learn the following in this article:
- Tips for putting on crampons
- When to use crampons
- Three techniques for using crampons
- Tips for descending in crampons
Check your crampons properly fit your climbing boots before you head out to the hills. Between the bottoms of your boots and the crampon frames, solid contact should be achieved. We have written a detailed article on how to choose crampons, including information about crampon materials and bindings.
A climber’s safety is his or her responsibility. A video or article cannot replace qualified instruction and experience.
These tips will help you:
- You should avoid loose fabrics or items hanging around your ankles or near your feet.
- You should tuck all of your crampon straps in and your shoelaces neatly.
- If you’re wearing gaiters, the buckles should be on the outside of your legs to prevent snagging.
- Your boots’ bottoms should be in solid contact with the crampon frames, so tighten the straps.
- You should check them whenever you take a break to make sure they’re secure.
You should consider crampons if your footwork no longer feels secure with just your boots and an ice axe, or if you are having trouble kicking steps in the snow without working too hard. Here are some scenarios in which crampons would be useful:
- When the snow is much firmer
- Angles of slope increase
- When you travel, you would like to avoid kicking as many steps as possible
- A glacier will be a good place to wear crampons
But don’t delay too much putting them on. If you feel yourself slipping, scan the terrain and grab your crampons before starting to slip. Make sure there are no overhead or fall hazards along your route and find a flat, safe spot to do it.
The following are the three methods for walking and climbing in crampons, although most beginners will stick to the first two:
- French technique, or flat foot
- Frontpointing, also known as German technique
- Hybrid, also known as American technique
No matter what technique you choose, keep your feet a few more inches apart, and maintain a wider stance than normal. Keep your knees bent and keep an athletic stance (especially when descending).
Check this c=video for crampon techniques:
Flat Foot or French Technique
As slopes steepen, you want as many crampon tines to contact snow as possible. The snow is flat under each foot. Place your crampons intentionally in the snow and flex your ankle where each tine engages the snow or ice as you walk. In this case, you would be balancing on an edge and might slip if only the uphill tines were in contact with snow. In order to match the slope, you should angle your sole accordingly. No matter how you ascend, whether you duck walk or use crossover steps, keep your feet flat.
Frontpointing or German Technique
This is a more advanced climbing technique that is commonly used on steep slopes or while ice climbing. When you kick in this technique, you engage your two front points (and most of your toe plate) on the slope.
Hybrid or American Technique
In steeper terrain, flatfooting is less secure and not as easy, while frontpointing can quickly tire you out. Consider combining the two techniques with a hybrid technique.
- Kick straight into the slope with one foot, engaging the four tines up front.
- Swing your other foot across (in a duckwalk), keeping it flat and all tines engaged in the snow.
- Using this technique, rest-stepping is only possible every other step. The foot you have turned out is the one you will want to rest and pause on the most.
Managing Snow on Your Crampons
To prevent lumps or balls of snow from sticking to the crampons, all crampons now have anti-balling plates. Yet, snow may still ball up underfoot and you’ll notice that the points aren’t biting into it.
Crampons can be cleared in two ways:
- The friction will help rid the snow of it when you scuff your toes on the snow.
- Strike your ice axe’s shaft while standing on your toes with all your strength.
Many mountaineering accidents occur while descending. There may be several reasons for this, including fatigue, gravity pushing you down or warm snow accumulating at the bottom of your crampons.
In crampons, here’s how you can descend:
- Standing with your knees wider than your shoulders, knees loose and bent, maintain an athletic stance
- Your toes should always point in the direction of your movement. If you’re moving across a slope while walking downhill on switchbacks, your crampons should be pointed across the slope.
When to Take off Crampons
Whenever you reach a flat area or the snow softens enough that you don’t need crampons anymore, find a safe place to remove them. When it’s less dangerous or less likely that you’ll fall, don’t take them off, such as when you’re skiing in sloppy, wet, or shin-deep snow.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs):
How do you walk with crampons on?
To know how to walk with crampons on you need to check out this video!
What are crampons used for in climbing?
During ice climbing, crampons are attached to footwear to provide traction on snow and ice. A crampon is also useful for securing travel on snow and ice, including traversing glaciers, snow fields, and ice fields, and climbing snow slopes.
Why did climbers have to wear crampons on your foot?
Crampons are necessary for climbers to gain traction on snow and ice, as we mentioned earlier. Apparently inspired by cleats, crampons are metal spikes that protrude from the bottom of your boots while you climb.